One of the big reasons I tend to believe that we are an 'arm', and not the local church, is because of the context - and more specifically - who controls it.
Campus ministry is, to a certain extent, subject to the academic institution. Unlike the local church, campus ministries will have to - again, to a certain extent, play by a certain set of rules... that they have no say in creating. Whether it is an institutionally-based ministry on a Christian campus, or a para-church or church-based ministry that reaches out to any given campus; all will have to shape their mission and ministry to fit within the larger mission and communal guidelines of the campus community (or run the risk of being banned from campus).
The mission of the university - Christian or non - will first and foremost be the mind of the student and adequately preparing and equipping the student for work in the world. The faith background of the institution likely describes what approach they will take... or from what background their faculty and staff will come, and may even be central to shaping the ethos and decision-making within the institution. But at the end of the day, students are paying lots of money to earn a degree so they can get a job (of course we hope they see it as being trained and equipped to live out the call that God places on their lives... but for most students it will be a long process in getting them to that point).
The local church does not have to deal with this. The mission of the local church, is not subject to an institution that does not have loving God and loving others as its central mission. Whether your local church operates independent of any governing body, or not, the ultimate goal will likely be very similar - a house of worship filled with believers who are intentionally becoming the men and women that God desires for them to be and reaching outside themselves in loving service to others (or something like that). Right?!
What do you think?
- How big of an impact does the institution you serve, or reach out to, have on your mission and how you go about accomplishing your mission?
- Is our mind-set and/or approach on campus any different from what is held and/or expressed in the local church? Should it be?
I'd love to know what you think!